Updated 1:42 p.m.
Nine Minnesota residents have now tested positive for COVID-19 with new cases in Hennepin, Dakota and Stearns counties, state health officials said Thursday. The new cases are all believed to be travel-related, not from community spread, and the patients are recovering at home.
State health officials also said they are not recommending Minnesota schools close at this point — a position supported by the Minnesota Department of Education — but they made it clear to reporters Thursday that the overall situation is fluid.
The state Health Department is asking schools to employ "social distancing"— minimizing times when people are closer than 6 feet, staggering recess and limiting inter-school interactions. Medically fragile students should consider finding alternatives to school.
While the coronavirus strategy remains in containment mode — isolating and quarantining cases — officials are bracing the public for longer-term life changes.
"We are now starting to move into the phase when we want to move into community mitigation ... where people's personal lives will be impacted ... even if they are healthy,” Kris Ehresmann, the state’s infectious disease director, told reporters.
COVID-19 is the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus first identified in China that’s been sweeping across the world.
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